In this day and age of consoles getting bigger and better, there are companies out there that are offering smaller alternatives when it comes to getting the most out of your gaming. Valve is fiddling around with the idea of manufacturing a game console; there are a number of units that connect directly to your television and offer simpler gaming pleasures, like Namco's Pac-Man unit; and then there's the OUYA console, which looks to make a few waves in the market next year.
The OUYA, with a main unit that's about the size of a Rubik's cube and an Xbox-like controller to match, was first introduced through a KickStarter page back in July 2012. It's the master work of Yves Behar, the man who created the portable Jambox technology alongside his firm at Fuseproject. It's a console that, for the most part, supports all the games you'd normally find in the Android market, ranging from puzzle games like Angry Birds and Canabalt to action titles like Shadowgun and Dead Trigger. And of course, Minecraft is in there, for those who can't get enough of digging.
That's just the start of what the OUYA console can do, according to the creators. Various developers have already signed on with their respective projects for the mini-system. These include OnLive, who will provide all their streaming content (even though you'll still require a membership to that service); Square Enix, who are bringing a Final Fantasy game to the system; Namco, who are in deep negotiations to bring various arcade classics from their library; and Robert Bowling, the former Infinity Ward strategist who opened his own game studio, Robotoki, will be bringing the exclusive zombie action title Human Element to the system, with a demo on the way for next year.
But it turns out the unit has more going for it with games. For instance, it's completely built so that techno freaks can fiddle around with it, adding new hardware to make it run their way. So, yes, it's "hack" approved. You'll also be able to take advantage of several streaming services with the unit. These include the music video channel VEVO, which lets you watch whichever up and coming artists you choose; the XBMC media streaming app, so you can watch movies and shows that support it; and the TuneIn and iHeartRadio channels, which open up a robust line-up of radio stations that you can stream right through the box. Twitch.tv is also supported, in case you feel like watching your up-and-coming eSports champs in actions with League of Legends.
For such a small device, it sounds like the OUYA will be running like a beast. It comes with a Tegra3 quad-core processor; 1GB RAM built within the unit, 8GB of internal flash storage; an HDMI connector that lets you stream through a TV with 1080p support; BlueTooth LE 4.0, Android 4.0 support, and Ethernet – something that various PC fans will no doubt be happy about. We have yet to see a unit up and running, but judging by the specs we've seen so far, it's definitely intriguing.
Now the real question is how many more major players will step up. Obviously, with OnLive, players will be able to access a variety of games, including Darksiders II, Batman: Arkham City and Saints Row: The Third (even if the service has been running slow since it was bought out a couple of months ago – notice there's no sign of Borderlands 2 on it yet). But it'd be great to see other companies take Namco's initiative and reintroduce their library on the service. Just imagine what Konami could do with their classic line-up. Or, for that matter, Capcom.
But there's still a few months to go in the system's production cycle, and announcements could always be made in terms of content that is coming out for it. One thing's for sure- OUYA has plenty of cash to spare. Their KickStarter, which ran for a full month and offered rewards aplenty (including an exclusive brown-stained system for $130), made a whopping $8.5 million, a huge leap forward from its intended $950,000 goal. So, yeah, you can expect a great deal of that cash to go into the system's development.
We should have a better look at the OUYA in the months ahead, especially near the Game Developers Conference, since that's the same month that the system is set to launch. If you didn't buy one through KickStarter, you're not out of luck, as you can head over to the official OUYA site (http://www.ouya.tv) for pre-order information.
For such a tiny little game system, it could very well offer a lot this coming year. Be sure to check back for more updates, including a hands-on report.